Germany–India relations

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India-Germany relations
Map indicating locations of India and Germany



Institutional ties between the Republic of India and the Federal Republic of Germany focus predominantly on trade, technical education and cultural exchanges.

The relationship with Germany suffers from sustained anti-Asian sentiment in Germany. 68% of Germans expressed a negative view of India according to the 2014 BBC World Service Country Rating Poll, which saw Germany lead global anti-Indian feelings and surpassing even Pakistan where only 58% held anti-India views.[1] The 2007 Mügeln mob attack on Indians and the 2015 Leipzig University internship controversy has clouded the predominantly commercial-oriented relationship between the two countries.


A Sikh soldier (of the 4th Division (the Red Eagles) of the Indian Army, attached to the British Fifth Army in Italy) holding a captured swastika flag after the surrender of Nazi German forces in Italy. Behind him, fascist inscriptions on the mural says VIVA IL DUCE, "Long live the Duce" (Benito Mussolini). Photo circa May 1945

India and Germany had indirect contact during ancient times, resulting more visibly in Nazi Germany's use of the swastika in its flag.[2]

During World War I, India was under British rule. Consequently the British Indian Army was ordered to contribute soldiers to the Allied war effort, including on the Western Front. Over 9000 soldiers died in World War I. Pro-independence activists within the colonial armies sought German assistance for the cause of India's freedom resulting in the Hindu German conspiracy during World War I.

Prior to and during World War II, Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose, a prominent freedom fighter for Indian independence, made a determined effort to obtain India's independence from Britain by seeking military assistance from the Axis powers. Subhash Chandra Bose met Adolf Hitler and obtained limited assistance from Nazi Germany. The Indische Legion was formed to serve as a liberation force for British-ruled India and was principally made up of British Indian prisoners of war and expatriates in Europe. On the Allied side the war effort mobilized 2.5 million volunteer troops from British India and caused the loss of 24,000 soldiers to fighting Nazi Germany.

A Sikh soldier of the Indische Legion deployed to the Atlantic Wall near Bordeaux, France. (Photo taken on 21 March 1944 by Propagandakompanien der Wehrmacht)

India was the first nation to end the State of War with Germany after World War II. Unlike most other countries who forced compensation payments or extracted reparation dues upon German people, India waived all its compensation rights in an effort to lessen the burden on the German people as their country had been reduced to a rubble and there was little food for Germans to eat after the collapse of Third Reich.

India maintained diplomatic relations with both West Germany and East Germany and supported their reunification in 1990.[3][4]

Development of bilateral ties[edit]

Germany has extensively supported education and cultural development in India. Germany helped establish the Indian Institute of Technology Madras after both governments signed an agreement in 1956 and increased its co-operation and supply of technology and resources over the decades to help expand the institution.[5][6] India has launched seven micro-satellites into Polar orbits for German universities since 1999.

In the later 1960s, German aircraft designer Kurt Tank, who worked for Focke-Wulf during World War II, went to work in India. First was first employed as the Director of the Madras Institute of Technology, and later joined Hindustan Aeronautics, where he designed the Hindustan Marut fighter-bomber, the first military aircraft constructed in India. Kurt Tank left Hindustan Aeronautics in 1967 and by the 1970s had returned to live in Berlin.

In 2008, German Chancellor Angela Merkel made an official visit to India that led to the signing of several agreements expanding bilateral co-operation in commerce, science, technology and defence.[7] Both nations established the Indo-German Science and Technology Centre in New Delhi to promote joint research and development in energy, environment, coal and water technologies.[6][7] Germany is India's largest European trading partner and the 5th largest trade partner.[3][8] India and Germany enjoy strong commerce and co-operation in telecommunications, engineering, environmental technology, food processing, chemicals and pharmaceuticals.[3][8] The Indian Navy and the German Navy conducted joint-exercises in 2008 for the first time, following an anti-piracy co-operation agreement between the two nations signed in 2006.[8]

Strategic relations[edit]

A German delegation led by Defence Minister Ursula von der Leyen meeting with senior officers of the Indian Navy's Western Naval Command in Mumbai; 28 May 2015.

The India-Germany strategic relationship is limited by the absence of a meaningful defense relationship and insignificance of German geopolitical influence in Asian affairs. Germany has no strategic footprint in Asia. Anti-Indian public sentiment in Germany is an obstacle to the improvement of strategic ties between Germany and India.

In the 1990s, Germany condemned India's 1998 nuclear tests.[3][8] India and Germany are together in seeking a permanent seat at the United Nations Security Council.[9]


Germany continues to be India's largest trading partnership in Europe. Germany is the 8th largest foreign direct investor (FDI) in India. Germany's FDI totaled about 5.2 billion USD during the period 2000-2012, constituting about 3% of total FDI to India. Indian investments in Germany have seen sharp increase in last few years.[10] Current trade volume stands at €10.5 billion in 2006, €12.7 billion in 2007-08 and both nations see it increasing to €30 billion by 2010.[3][7][8][11]

Indian Prime-Minister Narendra Modi jointly opened the Hannover trade fair Hannover Messe 2015 on 12 April 2015 along with Angela Merkel [12] and held trade & investment discussions with German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin.[13]


- Jakob De Roover, University of Ghent, Belgium

Commercial & trade[edit]

German products enjoy a positive reputation in India in terms of quality and technology, however the Made in Germany label doesn't favor all goods.[15]

Stiff global competition on high-technology products had diminished the value of the "Made in Germany" brand. German machine tools, automotive and health-care exports have ceded ground to products manufactured in Asian countries.[16][17][18]

General public[edit]

There have been several xenophobic and racist attacks on persons of color in Germany, including Indians.[19][20][21][22]

In August 2007, a mob of over 50 persons attacked 8 Indians in Mügeln.[23][24][25]

In March 2015, Professor Annette Beck-Sickinger, the head of the biochemistry department at Leipzig University, caused furor in India by rejecting an internship application from an Indian student as a retaliation against India's 'culture of rape' and alluding to the existence of a wider Europe-wide boycott of Indian male students. The racial profiling, gender discrimination and xenophobic undertones of the incident placed the spotlight on prevalent institutional bias, increasing intolerance to foreigners and level of respect for the human rights of persons of color in Germany.[26][27][28] The Leipzig University internship controversy, occurred just weeks before the April 2015 official visit to Germany by Indian Prime-Minister Narendra Modi at the invitation of German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

BBC World Service Country Rating Poll data for Germany & India[edit]

According to a 2014 BBC World Service Poll, 32% of Indians view Germany's influence positively, 42% neutral and 26% expressing a negative view, while only 16% of Germans view India's influence positively, 16% neutral and 68% expressing a negative view.[1]

Results of 2014 BBC World Service poll.
Views of India's influence by country[1]
Sorted by Pos-Neg
Country polled Positive Negative Neutral Pos-Neg
 Germany 16 68 16 -52
 Pakistan 21 58 21 -37
 Spain 20 50 30 -30
 Israel 9 34 57 -25
 Mexico 26 37 37 -11
 South Korea 36 47 17 -11
 France 40 49 11 -9
 China 27 35 38 -8
 Canada 38 46 16 -8
 Peru 26 31 43 -5
 Australia 44 46 10 -2
 United Kingdom 45 46 9 -1
 United States 45 41 14 4
 Brazil 41 36 23 5
 Turkey 35 29 36 6
 Chile 35 21 44 14
 Indonesia 47 24 29 23
 Japan 34 9 57 25
 Kenya 53 23 24 30
 Ghana 53 22 25 31
 India 56 22 22 34
 Russia 45 9 46 36
 Nigeria 64 22 14 42
Results of 2014 BBC World Service poll.
Views of Germany's influence by country[29]
Sorted by Pos-Neg
Country polled Positive Negative Neutral Pos-Neg
 Israel 25 38 37 -13
 Spain 44 40 16 4
 India 32 26 42 6
 Pakistan 35 27 38 8
 China 42 22 36 20
 Mexico 45 24 31 21
 Peru 44 22 34 22
 Turkey 47 24 29 23
 Indonesia 53 28 19 25
 Chile 47 18 35 29
 Nigeria 63 23 14 40
 Japan 46 3 51 43
 Kenya 58 15 27 43
 Russia 57 12 31 45
 Brazil 66 21 13 45
 Germany 68 19 13 49
 Ghana 72 13 15 59
 United States 73 13 14 60
 Canada 77 10 13 67
 France 83 11 6 72
 United Kingdom 86 9 5 77
 South Korea 84 6 10 78
 Australia 86 7 7 79

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c BBC World Service 2014 Country Rating Poll
  2. ^ "Nazi Germany’s Fascination With Ancient India: The Case Of Heinrich Himmler". International Business Times. 26 March 2012. 
  3. ^ a b c d e Pallavi Sharma (2007-10-31). "Indo-German relations". Newstrack India. Retrieved 2008-10-08. 
  4. ^ "The Ups and Downs of Indo-German Relations". 26 Jan 2010. 
  5. ^ "History of IIT Madras". Indian Institute of Technology Madras. 2008-04-08. Retrieved 2008-10-08. [dead link]
  6. ^ a b "Kapil Sibal inaugurates Indo-German Science and Technology Centre". Newstrack India. Retrieved 2008-10-08. 
  7. ^ a b c "Angela Merkel plans to boost relations with India in business, science and politics". Pravda. 2007-10-30. Retrieved 2008-10-08. 
  8. ^ a b c d e "Indo-German joint naval exercise commences in India". Newstrack India. 2008-04-08. Retrieved 2008-10-08. 
  9. ^ "Germany, India strategic partners with excellent economic relations". The Hindu. 7 September 2014. 
  10. ^
  11. ^ "Indo-German trade to cross 30 bn Euros by 2010". The Economic Times. 2008-09-08. Retrieved 2008-10-08. 
  12. ^ "PM Modi, German Chancellor Merkel to inaugurate Hannover Fair". The Economic Times. PTI. 16 March 2015. 
  13. ^ "Modi, German Chancellor Merkel to inaugurate Hannover Fair". Hindu Business Line. The Hindu. 16 March 2015. 
  14. ^ India’s Daughter and BBC – Belgian Professor speaks out (Jakob De Roover, University of Ghent, Belgium)
  15. ^ "How much is 'Made in Germany' really worth?". Deutsche Welle. 20 January 2014. 
  16. ^ "German machinery manufacturers face Chinese challenge" (October, 2013). Automotive Products Finder. 
  17. ^ "German machine tool indu stry aims to catch up with Japan in Thailand". VDW (German Machine Tool Builders ́ Association). 26 November 2014. 
  18. ^ "The future of German mechanical engineering" (July 2014). McKinsey & Company. 
  19. ^ In Wake of Racist Attacks in Mügeln: Germany Wonders How to Stop the Neo-Nazis
  20. ^ An East German Problem? Racist Violence in Germany
  21. ^ Twenty Years after Rostock: Racism and Xenophobia Still Prevalent in Germany
  22. ^ German racist attacks soar
  23. ^ Mob Rule in Eastern Germany: Indians Attacked by Crowd at Street Party
  24. ^ Germans probe assault on Indians
  25. ^ German mob attacks 8 Indians at a fair
  26. ^ Zachariah, Benjamin (12 March 2015). "Now, a crusading racist alias a German professor on the generic rapist". The Economic Times. University of Heidelberg, Germany. 
  27. ^ De Roover, Jakob (11 March 2015). "India’s Daughter and BBC – Belgian Professor speaks out". Niti Central. India Platform, Ghent University, Belgium. 
  28. ^ "Of rapists and racists". Meri News. 11 March 2015. 
  29. ^ [1]